In the new year, the United States legislature will introduce the 2018 Farm Bill. Here is some information on what the new bill will contain and how it will impact you if it’s passed.
What is a farm bill?
The farm bill is the food and agricultural budget and policy for the United States. The bill impacts farming livelihood, and also determines how food is grown and which foods are grown.
The bill is split into titles, which are points of focus for the bill. The 2014 bill had 12 titles including commodities, conservation, trade, nutrition, credit, rural development, energy, and forestry. The money for the budget is divided across these 12 titles and spent on the issues that are prevalent in these areas. The budget for the 2014 bill was $956 billion.
How will it impact you?
South Dakota Senator John Thune is working on the implementation of the 2018 Farm Bill, and said the bill will focus on raising prices above production cost, streamlining conservation of soil and water, and preserving crop insurance. The bill will also fund food programs.
Arizona District 1 Congressman Tom O'Halleran is also working on the bill. He serves on the House Agriculture Committee, and helps make decisions that have an impact on agriculture, local food economies and access to food in communities across our state. Congressman O’Halleran’s district is home to more than 13,500 farms and nearly 23,000 farm operators.
With the last farm bill, food was provided for thousands of Arizonans. According to the Arizona Farm Bureau, the bill helped provide over breakfast to over 300,000 children who participate in the school breakfast program. Over 600,000 children were served 107,784,831 lunches through the school lunch program, and almost 1 million people received assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) through the bill. 80 percent of the 2014 Farm Bill was used to fund SNAP.
With the 2014 bill, the nutrition title saw $8 billion in cuts, and this could continue with the 2018 bill as well. According to AGPRO, the 2014 bill required the cutting of $10 billion from SNAP over 10 years. President Trump’s proposed 2018 budget calls for even more cuts, with a proposed decrease in the farm bill budget by $240 billion over the next 10 years. This could translate to a considerable hit for nearly all the programs funded by the bill.
These proposed cuts could harm Double Up Food Bucks Arizona, a program that doubles the value of SNAP used at farmer’s markets. Double Up Food Bucks Arizona benefits Arizonans because, in several areas throughout the state, people have low access to grocery stores or healthy food options. 12.6 percent of people in Maricopa County have low access, and in Greenlee county, this low access affects 70.6% of the population. Having access to farmers markets, paired with the ability to bring home more fresh produce, is a win for communities, farmers and families.
Double Up Food Bucks also supports local farmers, which enhances the local economy. Cuts could limit the use of the program, which could cause hardships for both farmers and shoppers.
Since the bill is still being drafted, there is limited information available at this time. To learn more and stay updated, visit these sites: